Growing Evidence for a "Divorce Divide"? Education and Marital Dissolution Rates in the U.S. since the 1970s

Steven P. Martin, University of Maryland
Publication Date:
Jul 2022
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

Author: Steven P. Martin

In this study, I use the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and supplementary data to measure trends in marital dissolution rates across educational and racial groups in the United States. From the 1970s to the 1990s, rates of marital dissolution fell by almost half among 4-year college graduates, but remained relatively high and steady among women with less than a 4-year college degree. Such a pattern is consistent with results from censuses and other surveys, appears to be present among both men and women, and persists when I control for shifts in marriage timing and premarital childbearing. The results suggest a growing association between socioeconomic disadvantage and family instability, although the causes of that association are not elucidated.


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